Make No Provision For Sin

party

Today is the second day of Lent. I won’t be writing devotionals specifically related to Lent since I’m sure your church has provided you with literature to guide your church through Lent 2020. However, today, I do want to touch on an aspect of Lent.

Lent gives us a specific time to set aside the noise of life and to meditate upon what our Lord did for us on the Cross. Of course, the purpose of Lent is not to have us live in sadness and despair. Rather, Lent realigns us to the powerful work of our Savior, Jesus, and our hope in Him, and of our resurrection, and that day when every tear will be dried (Rev. 21:3).

Make No Provision For Sin

Today’s Scripture contains an important reminder and a little truth, which we will zero in on. Romans 13:11-14: Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Notice at the end of this passage, we find “make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” Think about how your past sins entrapped you. Let’s pick lasciviousness.

An Example

Lasciviousness means: inclined to lustfulness; wanton; lewd behavior. This manner of expression is evidenced in many college parties and university clubs. However, lustfulness is hardly limited to young people, for we find this condition of the heart spilling out in nearly all social occasions from people trapped by this deadly sin.

There is an aspect of this sin from which we all can learn and bolster our righteousness. Notice that Paul wrote, “make no provision.” Now I am going to step on some people’s toes. Sorry, but this truth is essential.

How do we make provisions for lasciviousness? Well, men and women buying condoms before attending a social gathering is a way to prepare. Men are infamous for bringing a “wingman” to parties with the intent of corralling a woman with the purpose of taking her to bed. There’s an article about this in GQ.

There have been several scientific studies that show women dress more provocatively just before their period. One such article is from the American Psychological Association, and another article on this subject is in Live Science.

The above examples are clear preparations for sin. Of course, nearly all sin is first prepared for in our thought-life, usually through “baby steps.” Each step should warn us that we are approaching our entrapment in sin. Don’t do it! Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for sin.

The enemy of God is always looking for ways to trip up Christians to destroy their testimonies. Be on your guard.

Photo credit: william couch on Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-ND

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https://www.rockexcavationservice.org/confess-your-sin-quickly/

A Returned Man

Occasionally, I stray into other aspects of Christianity, however, my heart’s desire is to focus on Jesus. To glorify our Savior, to help the lost find Him, and the saved to walk closer to Him. The mission statement for this site is “Finding Christ in Christianity.” For no matter what the topic is, it’s all about Jesus.

So, today, let’s take a moment and consider Jesus healing a leper. This account is found in three of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Here’s the passage from Matthew 8:2-3:

And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

Leprosy Was An Example Of Sin

Leprosy was a “type” for sin: it was loathsome, spreading, incurable, and the Israelites were to avoid lepers – just like sin. Yet Jesus, seeing the leper’s faith, reached into his condition, into “sin”, and touched the man; saved that man. Jesus made the leper clean.

The leper was a Jew. We can be confident of this because God’s Word points out explicitly the few times Jesus healed people outside of Jacob’s progeny. So from this account of the leper, we know that Jesus is willing to touch those that have been grafted into the vine of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jesus will reach into a Christian’s life, touch them, and cleanse them of their leprosy, their sin.

You may have memorized 1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. So now think of this healed leper when you pray, asking Jesus to reach in and touch sin, the sin that’s in you. Your desire is not only to be delivered from your sin but to be cleansed from all your unrighteousness. And Jesus will do this, if you are willing to change your life.

Jesus Returned The Man

You see, Jesus didn’t just remove that man’s leprosy, He returned that leper back to his fellow Israelites. The cleansed man could once again worship, celebrate, and fully participate with his Jewish brothers and sisters. This is what Jesus expects of us when He forgives our sin. We are to return to our brothers and sisters in Christ, to our local church, to submit to the leadership Christ has provided us.

Rest in Jesus. Don’t sin, but if you do sin, remember Jesus is our advocate. You can take comfort in these words of Jesus in John 6:39, And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.

Photo by Kristina Paparo on Unsplash

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Envy

person cutting paper that has the word envy printed on it

Our world has lost all respect for the things of God. From casual sex to envy, these and more are free from our society’s concerns. What kids espoused in the 1960s, “Free Love,” and transcendental meditation, has now thrown Godliness into the trash heap of history and has filled the resulting vacuum with lies, Godless rhetoric, and content-free promises.

Today, I was on one of my go-to sites for Bible study when I saw the following advertisement:

One of the Seven Deadly Sins

 Within Catholicism, envy, a synonym for coveting, is one of the Seven deadly sins. And within all of Christendom, envy is denounced because it is specifically called out in the Ten Commandments:  

Exodus 20:17 – “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

It’s not shocking to me that the kids of the greatest generation have cast off the Godly constraints that allowed the one true God to bless America, for that is the way rich kids behave who’s parents worked their way out of poverty. 

Kids of the Greatest Generation

Too much, too soon, too easily, are the hallmarks of the nouveau riche. For those of us that still believe that there’s a heaven to gain and a hell to shun, that have placed our faith in the resurrected Son of the living God, whose hope lies not in this world and its accolades but in the glory of heaven which has no sun for the glory of God is its light for us, we are to be holy for God is holy

For us that are in Christ Jesus, by faith children of God, to casually receive and allow worldly sins which the enemy of God uses to damn those made in God’s image, to allow those sins to permeate our lives, now that is just unacceptable and needful of repentance.

Whew. I hope you recognize my passionate plea as one grounded in love and my desire for all of us to have a deeper life with Jesus. Amen.  

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You may live:
https://www.rockexcavationservice.org/cardinal-sins/

We Must Not Acquiesce

a picture of a cat

Some of you may know that I have a cat named Max. My wife was the one that decided we needed to get a cat, so she got two. That’s just how she’s wired. For all I know, she thought she’d run into someone on the way home that needed a cat so she could say, “Hey, I’ve got an extra. You can choose the one you want!”

Well, that didn’t happen. She made it all the way home with two cats, and they’ve been mooching off of me ever since. And the one cat, Max, turned out to be a dog-cat. He acts just like a dog, but with that, “I thinking I’ll kill my master, now.” twist. He just tried that, but as you can see, I won. 🙂 He’s okay, but I think he’s already looking for his next chance.

I think we all have a little “Max” in us, not the killing part, but the turn-on-a-dime thing. We can have a morning devotional, get to work without spilling coffee (or tea) on us. We can be firing on all cylinders all day at work. Leaving work, we get our earbuds in, crank up our after work P&W (praise and worship), and then for a reason that not another person on planet Earth could detect, the world has pushed our buttons. And then we feel the disappointment.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. – 1 John 2:1 

What we must never do is to give up the fight. We must not acquiesce for we have an advocate, Jesus Christ!

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Cockle Burrs

cockle burrs

Recently, my wife and I met with her best friend from high school. My wife’s friend lives on a farm, so she has all manner of animals, one of which is a large airedale that lives outdoors.

When this large dog came lumbering up to us, we could see that cockle burrs filled her fur. It was challenging to find a place to pet the beast without tearing our flesh! It seems the dog had decided to play in the thickets. 

Pulling Cockle Burrs

As we talked, my wife’s friend meticulously pulled each burr from the dog’s fur. Watching her, I realized that the dog required help, for the animal was unable to remove these painful burrs herself.

That reminded me of Galatians 6:1 (NLT):
Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. 

There may be times when we have a sin with which we cannot overcome without the help of a Christian brother or sister. Other times we may be that brother or sister that a fellow Christian needs to overcome their sin.

If you’re in a situation like the one I just described, remember to “be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.”

Photo credit: mrd00dman on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC

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Love Covers

woman holding a paper heart

1 Peter 4:8 (ESV) Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

To “cover,” in Hebrew, often means to “forgive,” the idea being that of an offensive object which you bury or hide by putting something else over it; see, for example, see Psalm 32:1 and Psalm 85:2.

I pray you have a blessed day!

Shekinah Clothes

I saw on one of the news sites a beautiful picture of the Queen of England. She wore a fancy, yet understated hat, a stunning dress, shoes, and jewelry (the real thing). I rarely pay any attention to this stuff but wife is awed by the Queen so I thought I’d look at that picture of her.

That rabbit trail led me to the Vladimir Tiara, a favorite of Queen Elizabeth’s. Duchess Vladimir from the Romanov dynasty commissioned the tiara. There’s a fascinating article about the intrigue involved in getting the tiara out of Russia. If you’re interested, you can read about that spy story here: https://www.townandcountrymag.com/style/jewelry-and-watches/a27633284/queen-elizabeth-vladimir-tiara-romanov-jewels/

What I’d like us to consider today is this: regardless of whether people wear nothing more than a necklace or dress like the Queen of England, all clothes testify of humanity’s sin and separation from God.

We read in Genesis 3:21 (ESV), “And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” Why? Because Adam and Eve had sinned and lost the glory of God that had clothed them.

In all of Queen Elizabeth’s finery, she still is testifying to the world of what was lost due to sin.

Now, the world has done an excellent job of trying to hide this testimony through myriad uniforms such as suits & ties, blue jeans & cowboy boots, military uniforms, and so on. All are a magicians trick; hide things in plain sight.

No, I am not advocating that we give up wearing clothes. Please, no! And besides, nothing would be accomplished by that. Sin has already stripped humanity of the Shekinah glory that was our covering.

So, when you notice someone that is “put together,” as my wife would say, remember that the “put together” person is reminding the world that we all need Jesus, the only true Savior.

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

A good ending to your story

There’s an old sermon that, no doubt, has been preached by hundreds of preachers. It asks the question, “What have you done with your dash?” Of course, the preacher is referring to the dash that will be on your tombstone, the time separating your birth date from your death date.

Today, I’d like us to consider our arc instead of our dash. There are six main arcs in storytelling, as identified by an A.I. program. These six arcs were derived from the analysis of nearly 2,000 works of fiction and what happened to the protagonist.

The arcs are.
1. Rags to Riches (rise)
2. Riches to Rags (fall)
3. Man in a Hole (fall then rise)
4. Icarus (rise then fall)
5. Cinderella (rise then fall then rise)
6. Oedipus (fall then rise then fall)

These six story arcs for fiction exist because they have been distilled from the actual lives of people. We may be fully committed to Jesus and still live an Icarus life. We may have great successes early in our lives and then lose it all during the later years, before we leave this Earth. That does not mean we failed God.

On the other hand, if our Icarus life is a moral one where we lived for Jesus early in our lives but then became complacent or bitter in our later years, then we need to switch stories. We need to jump from our arc to the Man in a Hole or Cinderella arc. With the help of Jesus, we can do that! And, that’s my point for this devotional. We are not “locked in” to a disastrous life of immoral addiction. And, yes, I’m addressing Christians.

We were all conceived in sin (Psalms 51:5). However, a severe problem Christians have is that many have held onto “pet” sins after they were born again. If, as Christians, we keep hidden sins, if we allow addictions to remain in us, if we long for the world, then we are destined to have a bad ending to our story. Sin is death, and it kills whatever it enters.  

I’m not writing about sins that are easily purged. I’m writing about sins that we’ve claimed 1 John 1:9 hundreds of times yet, still, those sins keep coming back.

Now here’s the Good News!

If we change, Jesus will change the ending of our story.  If we pray a plea like Psalms 51:10 (ESV), “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” or 1 John 1:9 (ESV), “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” And, we apply self-control and disciple to our lives our Lord will change us, and we will have victory over those sins.

We all want a good ending to our story, and no one wants that more than Jesus. Seek Him. Ask Him. Obey Him. And your arc will be beautiful.

Photo by Jilbert Ebrahimi on Unsplash

Embezzling from God

For so many Christians, books by Tolstoy, Churchill, Austen, and Lewis gather dust on their shelves. CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, and MP3s from Billy Graham, Joyce Meyer, Chuck Swindoll, and others sit in their cabinets. Bibles are likely found in nearly every room, concordances, too. They have Biblegateway’s app on the iPhones and Watchman Nee’s “Sit, Walk, Stand” book can be found in their bathrooms.

They are surrounded by vast knowledge, grand declarations of the one true God’s charity towards humanity and His profound, powerful teachings and prophecies, yet, none have touched their soul, none have affected their character. They starve in a garden of abundance.

Starvation usually leads to shameful actions.

In Amos, chapter 4, verses 4-6 we read, “Go to Bethel and sin; go to Gilgal and sin yet more. Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three years. Burn leavened bread as a thank offering and brag about your freewill offerings—boast about them, you Israelites, for this is what you love to do declares the Sovereign Lord. I gave you empty stomachs in every city and lack of bread in every town, yet you have not returned to me, declares the Lord.”

The Israelites were rich in the things of God, but they wanted something else, so they starved.

God further says in Amos 7:11-12, “The days are coming, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I will send a famine through the land—not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. People will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.”

Amos was prophesying to the chosen people of God. How much worse will it be for those of us grafted into the True Vine? We are already seeing a famine of God’s Word in the world.

Today, in our society, can we speak openly about the blood of Jesus? Can we say God judges people? Can we say that Jesus is the only way for salvation? That without salvation a person will be judged and damned to an eternity in hell? Can we warn the lost so that some may be saved? We can, but not without being “damned” by churches, by Christians.

Sinners need the righteous person to sin. You can see that by just being around an alcoholic. They cannot tolerate a person that won’t drink. That’s the same compulsion of a person trapped in sin. They can’t tolerate a person seeking righteousness.

Amos was filled with sorrow over what he saw that God would do to Israel; for God is a just and righteous God. Sin was celebrated, righteousness was degraded, and the poor receive neither justice nor mercy. The rich got richer while the poor poorer. As God said in Proverbs 29:7 “…the righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.” Sound familiar?

When Christians pray the Lord’s Prayer, take Communion / Eucharist, and then pray for things that are blatantly contrary to the will of God, they are using God’s name to pray against the one true God’s intent (i.e., will). This is embezzling! That’s right; if they do that, then they are signing God’s name to a check that He never authorized them to cash.

I pray that none of us will fall into the trap of using God’s name against the will of God. Always remember the words of that little book stuck in the back pages of the Old Testament; the book of Amos. God is an unchanging God.


Photo by Alexander Mils on Unsplash

Seed

Mark 4:3 “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed…”

For this parable from Jesus, we know the seed is the Word of God, and the ground is the person. The ground has the potential to be fruitful, but it’s the seed that determines the kind of fruit. If we receive the Word of God, then God’s fruit will be produced in our lives.

We don’t have the power to determine the kind of fruit, the Word (seed) has that power. So, if we let ungodly seeds get planted in us, then those seeds will produce their fruit in our lives. A seed of fear, a seed of lust, a seed of pride, each seed planted in us with the sole purpose of reproducing and multiplying after its kind.

So, what do we do when we’ve allowed an ungodly seed to be planted in us? We pray, as the Word says in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The cleansing is God pulling the weeds, the fruit of the seeds that are not of God, that we allowed and even asked to be planted in us. 

He’s the One that can get those weeds and their seeds of sin out of our lives, out of the ground in which they were planted. Of course, some of the ground clings to the roots of those weeds. Sin is not without a loss. We lose something every time we let those weeds grow; the more weeds, the more loss. I’m not speaking metaphorically. Parts of us are lost when those weeds get pulled. Just look at a person that has lived a life of unbridled sin; it’s physically evident.

I wonder the depths of regret I will have when my Lord judges me, and I learn whom God intended me to be but was withheld by my missing parts?

Photo by Marissa Lewis on Unsplash

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